Technical Blogging

In Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence, Antonio Cangiano shares his knowledge about setting up, running, and marketing a technical blog. There are good sections on creating good content that can apply to any sort of blog.

I’ve accepted that this 100 Posts, 100 Days project I have is, well, a blog. I thought it’d be good to read up on how I can approach this if I look at it as a blog. Here are some excerpts I enjoyed.

After picking the main topic, jot down a list of ten articles you could write for your blog.

Again, I think it’d be good to think of themes to write about and how they might break down into posts. Ten is a lot though.

What’s the reason your blog exists? Why did you start it in the first place? What’s your compelling story?

This question is way too deep. Because I want to exist? But it’s a good refresher. Why am I doing this in the first place? I wanted to be a better writer. I’ve been successful before when writing regularly. The things I wrote about opened doors in my career. I’d like to continue that.

Your goal is to make it just as obvious, to yourself first and then to readers, why your blog is worth following.

It’d be worth following because other people are probably trying to start writing habits of their own. And they aren’t novelists. It’d be good to take the Ben Orenstein and Sandi Metz idea of spreading the benefits of speaking at conferences, but for blogging. Ben also says blogging is important for capturing your beginner’s mind.

I can help someone.

I know it’s a long way off, but eventually it’d be good for this to also be funny. Because everyone likes the guy who’s trying too hard to be funny.

Write down goals for your blog. What do you want to get out of the blog you are starting? What do you expect from it in one month, three months, a year, three years?

  • One month: Learn to enjoy writing, build the habit (I think I’m here now.)
  • Three months: This will be around 100 posts. Seth Godin says you should find ten people to share with first. At this point I’d like to have, say, my first 3 or 4.
  • One year: 150 posts? After hitting 100 posts I’d like to keep a weekly publishing schedule. The value of one weekly post would have to exceed the value of the 5 posts. I also need to define “value” in some measurable way.
  • Three years

Right now I’m trying to review all the past books I’ve read through and highlighted to build up a set of book notes. A year from now it’d be great to write book notes once per week and a link collection once per week.

After picking the main topic, jot down a list of ten articles you could write for your blog. You don’t need to write the actual articles yet, just the titles. When you are done with this task, ask yourself whether doing this exercise left you excited or frustrated. Was it hard to come up with ten titles, or could you have kept going for ages? The main point of this exercise is to understand if you have enough to say about the topic at hand.

I’m learning that I’m not good at estimating how much I have to say about different topics. Sometimes it seems like things are going to spill out of my head, only to get stumped a couple paragraphs in. Other times I’ll be slow to start on an idea that seems like it might be a dud. Then I get into it and a few pages later I’m wondering if I should split it into multiple posts.

I’ll try this exercise out to see if I can pick a good theme to focus five posts on for a week. If I can think of ten titles then I might be able to write five posts and maybe one will be good.

I can start with a comparison of photography and writing. Before digital tools you had fewer shots at things. Now we can just fire away and post as we please. There are pros and cons to this. I need to focus on how to take advantage of digital convenience without falling in its traps.

Create lists of products (e.g., 5 Books Every Agile Developer Should Read). They can be cheesy or downright good advice. Opt for the latter.

Thank you for reading part one of my series: 5 Books Every Writer Writing 100 Posts in 100 Days Should Read.